Gender has played a major role in politics in The United States and specifically in the presidential elections. In politics, it could be differences in opinion between men and women regarding general political issues and candidates. Prior to 1920, women did not have the right to vote. Constitutionally, only white males of certain religions, who paid their poll taxes or owned some property, were awarded this right. For years, generations had struggled countless times and with humiliations to advocate for women being regarded same as men. Women suffragists like Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott demanded the right to vote among other rights, which shocked a lot of people. Some even had to endure starvation, assaults and even going to jail but eventually, all their efforts bore fruit as in August 1920, the 19th amendment was implemented thus gender was not a barrier to voting anymore in The United States. As a result women found new grounds in political parties, national government agencies, presidential campaigns and even running for office.
Gender became a noticeable feature in presidential politics and campaigns, specifically gender gap. In 1980, the gender gap which was 8 percent was noted as significantly larger than any other previous ones. Ronald Reagan won the elections with women making up 46 percent of the voters despite the previously noted votes during the campaigns. This gap was said to have been affiliated with the women’s economic status. He was criticized and the elections were opposed but he responded by promising to appoint a woman at the Supreme Court, which he kept later on (Bennetts 1980). The gap made the initial years of his administration difficult and kept a lot of women in fear of him leading the nation into war.
Although the 19th amendment did not pick up immediately, it did overtime and another way it affected presidential elections is by increasing female voter turnout. In most states, the number of women voters was higher than that of men. If at all they had opinions and perspectives on certain candidates or issues, they would vote and they made a relevant impact on electoral outcomes; they were less predictable than before. For instance, in 2000, when George Bush won against Al Gore, approximately 8 million more women than men voted and their votes were greatly related to their health, well being and economic status. Moreover, in the 2012 presidential elections, more than half of the voters were women which equals to over sixty million votes. More women than men voted for Barack Obama, who won the elections. The women’s votes were also very crucial in deciding those who would work in congress with the president; where Republicans were the majority.
Women suffrage was more than just giving all women a right to vote; a lot of women’s plights and issues were also brought to light and attempts made to address them accordingly. In the 2004 election, both parties organized and set up particular committees to mobilize the women and influence their votes. On one hand, the current president George Bush, who was looking to be re-elected, included his wife in his campaigns. The First Lady strategically made Bush’s feminist campaign advertisements on women centered websites which appealed to them greatly. John Kerry, on the other hand, also had a similar campaign that targeted all women voters. His initiatives mainly aimed at supporting women and they included: closing the pay gap, fighting gender based violence and increased health funds for women. However, a lot of women questioned why these initiatives came a lot later in his campaign and therefore most of them ended up voting for George Bush who thereafter generally won the elections.
Additionally, the amendment also extended opportunities to women to take part in governance. More women were elected mayors, in the senate and even in the state governments. One major national party nominated Hillary Clinton to run for presidency in 2016, contesting against Donald Trump. She managed to go past the primaries, which is usually considered the hardest part. However, gender disparity was clearly visible in the entire electoral process. Trump in particular, engaged in endless feuds with female journalists and mocked his only female primary opponent’s looks. He also questioned whether Hillary was strong enough to run the entire country and during one debate, referred to her as being nasty. Hillary’s intentions were also questioned based on her previous comments about women. Overall, this particular election produced the largest ever gender gap among the voters in the United States (Hughes et al., 2017). Despite the outcome of the elections, Hillary still gained more popularity and became highly acknowledged and appreciated.
All in all, this amendment which was finally implemented after a long struggle played an important role in the advancement of politics and democracy. Initial barriers to vote were eliminated and equality was created and later affirmed in other amendments in the constitution leading to more growth.